Unfortunately the title is not caving-related but typical conversation starter of the weather, which was absolutely fantastic and was a part of many events that made for a very good NCHECC weekend!

Saturday

Members present: myself, Glen and Hugh (GUPA).

After waking from a short slumber, I wandered around the hut aimlessly whilst eating breakfast and asking around for a trip. I heard some were going to Lost John’s, but there seemed to be quite a few, so I didn’t bother with that one. I then found Glen who was doing some rigging training with Hugh from GUPA and so I decided to tag along, suggesting somewhere in Kingsdale as it will be a bit quieter.

My light decided to pack in this weekend (reminder to self to get that sorted), so I ran around the hut (again), like a headless chicken looking for a helmet and light for me to have. Tony Seddon turned up to the scene as the knight with caving armour and let me borrow his for the day, which in turn led me to borrow it for both days. There was also a bit of time choosing a cave, which we decided was Heron Pot and Yordas Cave, both quite small in size, relatively close to one another and had a good deal of rigging practise.

Eventually we were arrived at the Yordas layby, really unmotivated to get ready to go caving because the weather was so nice. Having such a busy third year, whenever I have been out of the house besides university, I have been down a cave. So, the temptation to just go for a walk and soak in the sun was far more tempting. The cogs of reality were turning and as it would happen, that was the case, just unintentionally.

We headed across the dry Kingsdale streamway being careful to avoid the patches of frogspawn that was unusually littering the valley floor. We met the confluence between the stream and that of Gaze gill which had a stream flowing down. For Heron Pot, we were told to look for a dry stream valley, which there wasn’t one. There were three streams flowing into the Gill, one had a resurgence which was sumped, and the other two had no conclusion. So, for an hour, we searched the landscape above the gill for any form of entrance. This had no luck for us so we made our way to Yordas.

On the way back, I needed a cooling down so got into the stream, which was lovely and refreshing from the unusual heat that was searing down on us. Hugh went off to try and look for the entrance up another dry valley but had no luck again. It turned out that Hugh was the closest we had got and was probably within a few metres of the entrance, damn!

Yordas was the easiest to find with it being straight across the road and up through the trees. For the best route for rigging, we went into middle entrance, which is in the stream bed close to the Top entrance. Whilst Glen and Hugh were getting started with the rigging, I had a clamber around the gorge before then joining them down at the top of pitch 2.

The stream appears to have exploited joints in the floor of the gorge, causing it to sink here. There wasn’t a great deal of water flowing when we visited, but I can imagine it would be rather sporting following some rain. Being a dry stream bed most of the way down until you get to the main entrance, it would appear that it may flow in bad weather.
As the second pitch was being rigged, I was admiring some of the large coral fossils littered in the walls, as I usually do, before it was time to descend down. The passage winds to the right before dropping down into a little pool which provides a little slide which is entertaining enough for people like me. I had a go on that a couple of times before going to meet the others at the third pitch. On the way the stream we were following meets up with the stream that descends down Yordas pot (top entrance), and offers a little shuffle along the low passage. It then opens up a little bit into a nice bit of stream passage which I didn’t quite expect for the cave.

The rigging of the traverse at the beginning of the third pitch was a bit awkward which involved a bit of waiting around. Despite being so warm before, the cold was starting to sink in because there was quite a draft where we were. The sort of cold that sneaks up on you and chills you to the bone. I walked up and down the streamway to keep warm and to have a general wander around the place, which isn’t very much, minus the odd thin crack to slot through. I came back to Hugh descending down the waterfall pitch which didn’t look all that appealing as it gave you a good soaking. Had I just come out of the sun, I would have been ecstatic but my turn came and I did it as fast as I could, failing miserably. I just gave up avoiding most of the water and abseiled through the waterfall, knowing that a minute away was warmth.

It was decided that Glen was going ahead and making the third pitch a pull through and me and Hugh were to descend the first pitch and to de-rig the second and first pitch, which was done soon enough and we came out to Glen just arriving from the pull through.

We were soon back at the hut and had a lovely meal curtesy of Dave and Martin, many thanks! And this was followed by the typical fun and games such as pan and sling and the squeeze machine and a very violent version of sock wrestling.

Sunday

Members present: myself, Craig Hamer, Alex (MUSC).

I awoke on the Sunday after a very restless sleep on the floor feeling a bit hungover from the night before and the first words were “I change my mind on doing Rowten today.” Instead we decided to do Jingling Pot for some rigging training with Alex from MUSC. It took me a long time to get used to the fact that the clocks had gone forward probably down to the fact I hadn’t changed the time on my watch, but none the less, we were the first car off to Kingsdale.

It was, again, a beautiful day in Kingsdale, which made getting ready fun. I decided to put everything in a bag and walk that up to Jingling rather than walking up fully kitted. Finding the entrance took a bit of time, but we used Rowten as a pointer because we knew it was across towards Yordas. I spotted the trees we should be looking for and headed for them and we had finally found the entrance.

The stream that flows down into the pot was dried up which made for a very dry trip, and we could hear that there was a group of cavers already down there. We decided that Alex was rigging first and so he got his kit ready whilst I opened up a can of coke and laid back in the sun. About an hour passed of taking in the sun, beautiful views and having a gander in the vicinity of the cave before I was soon called down to join them. I got kitted up and headed down, which they had managed to rig to the start of the traverse around the pot. I took over and had fun rigging the traverse. This is my third time rigging and so I am still learning to be confident and trust my own rigging so was a bit nervous whilst doing it. Thankfully I remember the correct knots and got the rigging done quicker than the previous times.

I was soon rigging the Y hang down the first pitches into the cave and rigging the traverse. Time was ticking by and we wanted to get out in good time, so I rigged the next Y hang and descended down to what would be a deviation, but rigged that as a rebelay so I could have a bit of practise to know just how much slack I need to give with the rope because the first pitch didn’t have quite enough. Then it was time to start ascending up the rope and de-rigging what I had done. That was done nice and quickly and was back up to Craig who was waiting to de-rig the traverse at the top of the pot. Me and Craig had a comfortable moment as I attempted to squeeze past him to start going along the traverse but instead ended up straddling him instead. But was soon back up on the surface and getting dressed and heading down to the car.

A couple of observations I made is that I am becoming a bit quicker at rigging, and my confidence and trust in the rigging I have done is increasing as well. I enjoyed doing it this time, so would like to pursue this a bit more as the previous two years I have dreaded doing it.

Many thanks are extended to the organisers of NCHECC, trainers and chefs as, in my eyes, it went really successfully and I have heard many comments off others how well it went and how much they enjoyed it.